Last Tuesday, members of the Farmington High School Band program were treated to a performance and musical clinic by Dr. Paul Budde, Assistant Professor of Music Education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Budde critiqued the bands, performed a tuba solo for the ensembles, and led an hour-long low brass sectional.
Budde’s visit was not an anomaly, however. Already this year, FHS Band students have worked with faculty and students from a wide variety of colleges, including McNally Smith College of Music, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and UW-Eau Claire.
“We want our students to experience the best music around, but we also want to plant a seed: to remind students that music doesn’t end after high school. It’s a lifelong pursuit,” says FHS Associate Director of Bands Bradley Mariska.
Each individual or ensemble brings a different expertise. For example, Eau Claire’s visit focused on jazz band performance practice, while the band from Stevens Point gave breakout sessions, teaching FHS students through small group lessons and sectionals.
According to FHS Director of Bands Erin Holmes, there are also special - often personal - connections between FHS students and these ensembles. “Many of these ensembles have been visiting Farmington for years because we have alumni playing in the bands. For example, when Eau Claire brought their Trombone Choir for a master class and performance this past fall, you see former Farmington students playing in front of you.That’s extremely motivating for our current students.”
And despite the fact that the bands have already hosted everything from R&B combos to concert bands, there are many more visits happening yet this winter and spring. Dr. Sarah Schmalenberger, horn soloist and Associate Professor of Music at the University of St. Thomas, will perform with the Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band at their concert on Monday, March 6, and Dr. Peter Haberman, Director of Bands from Concordia College in Moorhead, will work with all four high school concert bands in April.
Of course, it’s not just the students who benefit from the musical exchange. Said Budde following his day visiting FHS, “it was so fun to hear such great progress. You have a great thing going on here in Farmington.”